More than two-thirds of university staff have never been recognised or rewarded for their teaching, a study has found.
Amid concerns that promotion in the sector is too heavily based on research excellence, the report, commissioned by the Higher Education Academy, found that just 28.4 per cent of academics have been rewarded by their institutions for their commitment to teaching or student support.
Only 3.5 per cent of the 1,201 academics polled – 42 in total – say they have received recurrent financial rewards such as promotions or pay rises for teaching work.
Another 4.2 per cent say they have received only one-off rewards, such as bonuses or training awards, for excellent teaching.
Academics also reported teaching being rewarded with time off to do research, letters of thanks and bottles of wine.
The survey, undertaken by the Staff and Educational Development Association, is part of a study of the HEA’s UK Professional Standards Framework, introduced in 2006 to encourage universities to link rewards and recognition to outstanding teaching.
The framework, which applied to 36,557 higher education staff last year, provides a benchmark to help universities develop their own professional development programmes, thereby enhancing teaching.
But the report, titled Measuring the Impact of the UK Professional Standards Framework for Teaching and Supporting Learning and published on 4 July, suggests that the impact of the HEA-run scheme may be limited to only parts of the academy.
Although the framework has had a “profound impact” on some universities’ thinking about learning and teaching, it says, many staff are neither aware of the scheme nor engaging with it.
While 68 of the 95 institutional representatives say that the framework has led to changes, only 57 per cent of teaching staff are aware of it and only a third have knowingly engaged with it.
Even among staff who hold HEA teaching fellowships or have completed accredited courses to hone their pedagogic skills, 44 per cent say they have no knowledge of the framework.
Some also question the value of training courses related to it.
One academic quoted says they “learned almost nothing”, while another identifies a “dreadful” course as “a pointless waste of time”.
There is limited evidence that the scheme is encouraging universities to reward teaching excellence with higher pay or promotion.
Only 47 per cent of institutional representatives say the framework has led to changes in rewards and recognition – and none of the Russell Group or GuildHE institutions that responded said it had an impact.
The report calls on the HEA to do more to raise the profile of the framework among staff by linking it explicitly to other professional development schemes.
However, Stephanie Marshall, deputy chief executive (research and policy) at the HEA, which held its annual conference this week at the University of Warwick, said there was “extensive evidence” of the framework’s impact, adding that it “can be instrumental in enhancing the quality of teaching at both an institutional and individual level”.
She said: “We commissioned this research because we thought it was important to understand more about the awareness and use of the [framework] at the institutional level, and about the impact it has had on the attitudes and practice of teaching staff.
“We can now work together as a sector to address some of the challenges and recommendations that it highlights, too.”
The report comes a week after the HEA announced the latest recipients of its flagship National Teaching Fellowships.
Each fellow receives £10,000 to support their professional development.
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